Daily Times (Primos, PA)

Politics is responsibl­e for charter school movement

- Christina Utti, Mont Clare, PA

To the Times: In response to “Charter schools pose no danger in Chester Upland,” the Board of Trustees at Chester Community Charter School left out important facts. This if a for-profit charter school. The owner of CSMI, the management company that runs the schools, sends millions of dollars in funding to the Republican Party every year. In fact, Judge Dozor, of Delaware County, was appointed by Republican Tom Ridge. The public should be aware of the political affiliatio­ns and how this influences privatizat­ion of our public schools.

As charter school expansion continues to plague predominat­ely minority urban settings, they perpetuate racialized loss of place and space and further segregate Black and Brown members of the community. This is done under the guise that they will provide new, shiny buildings and therefore a better education. The numbers tell all. This charter school does not educate the children any better than the Chester Upland School District. What the company does do, is go into already financiall­y strapped districts and try to take over their schools, leaving these districts in even further debt.

The letter from the Board of Trustees stated that it has requested to convert two of the oldest school buildings to “brandnew, state-of-the art academies that would bring unpreceden­ted opportunit­ies to the district’s underserve­d students.” New and shiny does not equal “unpreceden­ted” opportunit­ies. What it will do is bring better financial opportunit­ies to CSMI. This is a very lucrative business for the founder and CEO, V.H. Gureghian, who was the largest individual contributo­r to Tom Corbett. Over the years, Gureghian has contribute­d over $1 million in political contributi­ons in Pennsylvan­ia.

CSMI has never disclosed its profits nor its management fees. State records have shown that CSMI collected nearly $17 million in taxpayer funds when only 2,900 students were enrolled. It is no wonder that they can afford to build new schools off the backs of the public-school districts.

When Republican Peter Barsz was appointed Chester Upland receiver, he extended Chester Community’s charter to nine-year renewal under the pretext of “saving the district.” CSMI had no intention of opening a high school as high school students cost more to educate. What this did was guarantee that CSMI will continue to receive millions of dollars in revenue without being held accountabl­e. It also guarantees that their political party will continue to be funded by Gureghian.

Let’s work together to stop the expansion of privatizat­ion. Do not let charters steal the hub of our community.

As charter school expansion continues to plague predominat­ely minority urban settings, they perpetuate racialized loss of place and space and further segregate Black and Brown members of the community. This is done under the guise that they will provide new, shiny buildings and therefore a better education. The numbers tell all. This charter school does not educate the children any better than the Chester Upland School District. What the company does do, is go into already financiall­y strapped districts and try to take over their schools, leaving these districts in even further debt.

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